There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
The Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) hates Christmas. For him, it is the absolute worst time of the year, and with Christmas quickly approaching, he is trying to avoid going into Whoville at all costs. Unfortunately, through stress eating, he has run out of his supply of food, food that was supposed to last him until January. It is not yet Christmas, but it is close enough for all of the Whos in Whoville to be filled with Christmas cheer.
The Grinch journeys to Whoville, but is so filled with disdain that he decides to take matters into his own hands. He hatches a plan to steal Christmas from everyone in Whoville, and it is a plan that involves impersonating Santa. However, during his day in Whoville, the Grinch meets a little girl named Cindy-Lou Who (Cameron Seely) who is determined to talk to Santa this year. There is something important that she wants to talk to him about, and she will stop at nothing to do so, even if that means trapping the big, jolly, old man when he comes to leave presents under the tree.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Cindy-Lou & Whoville (+6pts)
You’re A Sad One (-4pts)
The Grinch & Max (+3pts)
The Plan (-4pts)
Stealing Christmas (+3pts)
Pro: Cindy-Lou & Whoville (+6pts)
I was surprised by how much I liked Cindy-Lou Who in this movie. I felt that her question for Santa was too sweet and cheesy, but I liked that she was a young girl on a mission, and I enjoyed how she went about trying to solve her problem. The girl really took matters into her own hands and it was fun to watch her story. Whoville was also pretty entertaining to see, or more specifically the Grinch in Whoville was pretty entertaining to see.
The movie briefly touched on people who are a little too into the Christmas spirit. Christmas songs on every channel, houses that take it too far with Christmas decorations, and people who get a little too joyful around the holidays. Everyone knows someone who takes their holiday cheer too far, which means everyone has met someone who has made them feel like somewhat of a Grinch. As a result, the moments in this movie that like fun at those people will connect with a lot of the adults in the audience. It was fun to see how the Grinch dealt with these Whos, and I honestly would have liked to have seen even more of it.
Con: You’re A Sad One (-4pts)
The filmmakers of this movie did what too many filmmakers try to do and tried to give the main character an origin story. We did not need to know why the Grinch hated Christmas, all we needed to know was that he did. Instead of letting it be and focus on the present day story we got flashbacks to the Grinch’s childhood. The filmmakers wanted us to sympathize with him, but we could have done so without having his origin spelled out for us. It would have been enough to just show him as a lonely outcast that resented the Whos for having what he did not. By spelling out his origin, I thought it hurt the character a bit. They did the same thing in Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas and I honestly did not understand it then either.
“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch”, that is how the song goes. While Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas gave an origin story, the filmmakers also maintained the Grinch’s mean nature. With Illumination’s The Grinch the origin story diminished his mean side almost entirely. The character is supposed to be mean, then have a change of heart. In this movie, he was pretty much sad the whole time, and it made the movie’s climax lose something. I always got the impression that this Grinch cared, so when his heart grew three sizes, it did not feel any different. It just felt like the filmmakers lost site of what this character’s story should have been.
Pro: The Grinch & Max (+3pts)
The relationship between The Grinch and Max was a joy to watch. This was an area that I honestly knew Illumination would get right. The Grinch loved Max, but he was also the Grinch. He got annoyed easily, but the only thing that brought him any joy is Max. Max also had a lot of personality in this movie. He got mad at the Grinch, and he had his own bed with a picture of him with the Grinch in it. It was fun to see so much attitude coming from this character.
Max went along with everything that the Grinch did, but he really just wanted to play and spend time with his green buddy. I liked all of the interactions between these two characters, but I would have liked to have seen more focus on this relationship. They both get plenty of screentime together, but I would have liked to have seen more of what Max thought of the Grinch’s actions and the effect it had on him, and I would have liked to have seen the Grinch coming to terms with that. The filmmakers could have done a lot more with them, but nonetheless, it was definitely entertaining to see these two characters together once again.
Con: The Plan (-4pts)
I like the whole story that Dr. Seuss created, but I thought the filmmakers did a poor job showing the Grinch planning to steal Christmas. Rather than seeing him tinkering, experimenting, and creating whacky inventions to steal Christmas from the Whos, the filmmakers showed him drawing string from a model of Whoville to see if it was possible for him to get to every house in time. His tinkering could have been fun to see, especially in an Illumination movie where we could have seen disastrous failed attempts at creating things. The filmmakers knew they should show the Grinch during his planning process, but they chose to focus on the more boring parts of that planning. The Grinch did a bunch of tinkering and came up with a bunch of whacky inventions to help him steal Christmas from The Whos, but it all happened off screen, and it felt like a big missed opportunity.
Pro: Stealing Christmas (+3pts)
Once the story finally got to the Grinch stealing Christmas, the whole thing became pretty darn predictable, but it was still entertaining. It was neat to see the Grinch using all his toys to do his Grinch thing. It was silly, and fun, but the filmmakers rushed through it. I obviously do not think it should have been drawn out, but it felt like it went by a little too quickly. Either way, the Grinch stealing Christmas was definitely fun to see done by Illumination. They delivered the climax that I expected to see, but I say that in a good way. It was expected, but it was what the audience wanted, and I think kids will enjoy it, I just thought the movie could have used a little more of it.
Con: Typical (-6pts)
While the climax of this movie, stealing Christmas, was predictable in a good way, the entire rest of the movie was predictable in a bad one. There have been two classic versions of this story. Two versions that audiences have loved: the classic cartoon from 1966 and the live-action version starring Jim Carrey from 2000. With this movie, the filmmakers failed to bring any new flavor to the story.
The filmmakers had the Grinch use a drone, which felt like a desperate attempt to modernize the story, but that was really the extent of this movie's unique, original spin on this story. We have seen this story done better, and we have seen it done better twice. There was not enough originality to this version, which made it feel somewhat stale. I kept waiting for it to get funny, and kept waiting for it to get interesting, but I thought it was really just mediocre at its best. It started firmly in the shadow of the other two movies, and it never really managed to get out and shine on its own.
Grade: C- (73pts)
The Grinch was moderately entertaining when it was at its best. There was, however, a few problems with the story. First and foremost was the fact that this story has been done before, and it has been done better. The filmmakers felt the need to retell a well-known story, but they did not feel the need to add anything new to it. The result was a movie that ended up feeling kind of boring, because I already knew how the story went, and this movie failed to break free from the shadows cast by the other two movies. The filmmakers of this one chose to focus on the more boring aspects of the Grinch’s planning, while giving an origin story that took all the steam out of the titular character, but that all being said, this movie was not all bad.
Cindy-Lou Who was a pleasant surprise, due to her determination to trap Santa Claus. It was a different spin on this character, which was refreshing to see, her storyline just did not get enough focus to make a huge difference. The relationship between the Grinch and Max was a fun to see and the act of stealing Christmas was entertaining, but similarly, these things did not get much focus either. The movie had its flaws, but while adult audiences might find it boring in a few areas, I think kids will have a decent time with it.